Friday, February 24, 2006

"I love the smell of conflict . . . "

This was included in the SPJ roundup, e-mailed 2-23-06.
FAVORITE HATE MAIL. Elizabeth Prata of the Monument Newspaper in Gray, Maine, shares her favorite hate mail:
The town’s 30-year deputy election clerk happened to have violated State election laws in three consecutive elections, including throwing out valid write-in ballots because she personally didn’t like the people who were listed.
Here’s how one man responded to The Monument’s article exploring the issue:
“The biggest threat to democracy in Gray doesn’t come from sloppy election management, but from the fact that a few screeching, self-righteous conflict addicts continually deter good people from participating in town affairs through the use of character assassination. Your unjustified attack on Donna Hill’s competence makes you a part of this problem, not the solution. Now do the right thing and apologize to the nice lady.”
“I loved his phrase ‘screeching, self-righteous conflict addict’ so much I laminated it and put it on my coffee mug,” Prata said. “Mmm, I love the smell of conflict in the morning.”


The unbalanced news

It's come to my attention that Elizabeth Prata, editor of The Monument, may be biased.
While she heatedly denies any bias, I've been told by several people that she has deleted their comments from her blog.
Do you suppose she doesn't want people to know the whole truth?
This makes me wonder if she's telling the whole truth in her articles in The Monument.
After all, we all know that a real journalist would give a balanced report, without injecting her personal commentary.
But I'm told that Prata is not capable of giving a balanced report. People are saying that she's not a real journalist.
Is she proving that point by deleting dissenting views in her blog?
Inquiring minds want to know!
Nathan Tsukroff

A Thank You to our blog

Dear Bloggiepoo:
Last month my wife left me, my dog up and died, and my car fell apart right in my driveway.
I read this blog for the first time last week.
Yesterday, my wife came back to me, my dog came back to life, and my car fixed itself. And on top of that, all the potholes on Shaker Road got filled in.
Thank you, blog! You guys are the best thing that ever happened to Gray!
Keep up the good work!
Anonymous Guy

Thursday, February 23, 2006

I love opinionated women

The sane ones, anyway.

Note to commenters

A few days ago I posted a comment (under my name) in response to some general questions about comments. I said that no comment would be deleted here as long as the comment fell inside some very generous commonsense limits. I don't think I need to explain those limits to most people, but in case anyone doesn't get it: no obscenities, no libel, no threats of violence. You can hold strong opinions without going nuts. Even in Gray.

I was just alerted that a recent comment exceeded these limits. I confirmed this was the case and deleted it -- first time I have done so. My guess is that the comment was simply a stink bomb put up by a troll in search of a reaction.

The decision to include unfiltered comments on this blog was among the most difficult. I don't read every comment posted here, but I generally enjoy them and encourage people to comment as often as they wish. Comments are a good way to exchange information and get something off your chest quickly. There's also something about the abbreviated nature of comments that brings out wit in a way few other opinion venues can. They're often hilarious, but they can sting, too. That's the idea. However, I will not hesitate to delete a comment that crosses the line described above. If the abuse persists, I have the ability to track down the abuser's IP address and block it. If that doesn't work, I will require registration of commenters. If comments become too troublesome to manage, I will shut the comment section down permanently. While I recognize that such an action would make some people in town very happy, it will have no effect on this blog's primary purpose - documenting, publicizing and mocking the abuse of power in Gray. If you want to post anonymous trash, I suggest you call Sound Off.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

"Don't bother me with the facts"

Andy Upham, vice-chair of the Town Council, has made it clear he doesn't think the Planning Board should require sprinklers or cisterns in new developments in Gray.
He said he doesn't believe it's legal for the board to make such requirements.
At Tuesday night's council meeting, Chair Gary Foster read from a response by the town's law firm. The response said that the board could not legally require life safety items, but could deny an application that did not include life safety items.
The fact is, planning boards in Maine have a legal right to request life safety items. Under Title 30-A, chapter 187, section 4403, paragraph 5.C, the planning boards may grant approval of a subdivision "upon any terms and conditions that it considers advisable to . . . (3) Protect and preserve the public's health, safety and general welfare."
So there you have it. The fact is, Gray's Planning Board does have a legal right to insist on sprinklers and cisterns in sub divisions.
It would be nice if Upham would check his facts before he stands up and makes a speech.
Nathan Tsukroff


Less is more

Town Council Chair Gary Foster advocates less government. He would like to relieve the town's "regulatory quagmire." And I'm sure he would welcome less government interference in our daily living.
Which is interesting, considering his intereference in the signature-collection process for the petition to recall Vice-Chair Andy Upham.
On Tuesday, Foster instructed Town Manager Mitch Berkowitz to ask Priscilla at the library to tell petition gatherers they could not stay inside the building. Foster claimed signature collection inside the library violated a prohibition against employees supporting a policital campaign.
That was completely wrong, as lawyers immediately made clear. First, town employees were not involved in collecting signatures. Secondly, the library is a public place, and public places are used for elections so there is no reasonable prohibition against campaigning on public property.
Less government? Sure . . . unless your friend is being threatened by a recall. Then MORE government is called for, right Gary?
Foster, a champion of the constitution, has just walked all over it. Shame on him!
Nathan Tsukroff


Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Mitch Berkowitz Resigns

Town Manager Mitch Berkowitz, in a letter read at Tuesday night's Town Council meeting, is resigning.

Mitch's last day in the office is March 17, although he will be collecting accrued sick time through May 2.

Finance Director Donna Hill has already announced her retirement for mid-April.

The Town Council will be looking for an interim manager for the short term.

Mitch said he did not think it was fair to hire a Finance Director if he is leaving, so that will be left to the Town Council.

We're in for an interesting ride, folks!

Nathan Tsukroff

Monday, February 20, 2006

Prata put on notice

Recall attorney's letter to Elizabeth Prata.